Blood stain expert 'amateur', says lawyer at RCMP shooting inquest

An RCMP lawyer questioned the credentials of a blood spatter expert whose testimony would counter police's version of the October 2005 shooting of Ian Bush at the police detachment Houston, B.C.

An RCMP lawyer on Thursday attacked the credentials of a blood spatter expert whose testimony counters the police version of the October 2005 shooting of Ian Bush at the police detachment Houston, B.C.

RCMP lawyer David Butcher spent most of Thursday morning attacking the reputation of Joe Slemko, a blood analyst hired by the Bush family.

Slemko did a pattern analysis of the blood spatter in RCMP photographs to try to determine the positions of the 22-year-old mill worker and Const. Paul Koester, the officer who shot him, at the time of the shooting.

Butcher said, despite his credentials as a crime scene analyst, Slemko is a general duty constable after 20 years working for the Edmonton police service.

Butcher described Slemko as an "amateur" who hasn't provided evidence in a criminal case for the Crown in Canada in nearly a decade.

Slemko gripped the sides of the witness box, his bottom lip quivering, and said: "If you want to challenge me, challenge me in court — not through the back door."

Earlier, the coroner had ruled, over the objections of Butcher,that Slemko is qualified to testify in the inquest.

Slemko admitted he's been cited twice for insubordination by the Edmonton police service, because he's provided evidence to support defence witnesses.

He said the RCMP even wrote a letter of complaint about him to Edmonton police, because he provided evidence that resulted in murder charges being stayed.

Butcher then referred to Slemko's report, raising questions about why it didn't include a reference to Koester's blood appearing on Bush's shirt or sleeve. He said the RCMP's analysis did find the blood on Bush's shirt.

"It was a stupid mistake, wasn't it?" Butcher shouted at Slemko.

Slemko admitted: "Yes, it was a stupid mistake," after being reprimanded by the presiding coroner.

Bush was arrestedon Oct. 29, 2005 for having an open beer outside a hockey game and for giving a false name to police. He was taken to the RCMP detachment and, 20 minutes later, he was dead.